Show Mercy

Gospel Message & Recording

The Gospel Reading today records the “Revelation to St. Joseph,” that is, the announcement from the Angel Gabriel on how Mary, who was soon to be engaged to Joseph, will conceive a son, not by human/physical means, but by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. But before an angel proclaimed such an announcement, Joseph had already found out that Mary was pregnant. The Gospel records in Luke chapter 1 verse 18 that the child was conceived of the Holy Spirit, but this is the Luke stating a fact to the reader, not stating what Joseph already knew. In fact, Joseph did not know that Mary’s pregnancy was divine. So, it is only natural for him to think that Mary had some sort of recent relationship whereby she got pregnant. The Gospel of Luke states, “Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” (Luke 1:19) Notice that Luke says, Joseph is a “just man.” The reason is that Joseph could have made a public display of Mary, but chose not to. He could have brought her before the Jewish authority to be reprimanded. In those days, the reprimand was death for sexual relations outside of marriage. Subsequently, the Angel appears to Joseph and lets him know that he should not put her away because the Holy Spirit conceived the child in her.

Here, Joseph demonstrates a couple of amazing qualities such as: 1) a patient attitude not to react to a situation but respond appropriately 2) a sober and merciful mind not put someone to shame regardless of what is right or wrong. These qualities are the reason why Joseph is one of the greatest saints of the Church and revered by many.

Being patient is a difficult virtue to acquire, but it is necessary in order to live a healthy Christian life. For example, you need patience in marriage, at work, in ministry, finances, etc. Without patience, we will struggle in these areas of life because when a situation arises where there is difficulty or struggle rather than taking a step back and attempting to see things clearly, we make rash decisions, which detrimentally affect our lives. Therefore, I believe whole-heartedly that Joseph struggled when he found out that his soon-to-be-wife was pregnant. Most likely he prayed and asked God for guidance because he knew that God would not place him where he is not supposed to be. In doing this Joseph demonstrates a great deal of patience. Any time struggle or hardships occur in our life—be patient—don’t react but respond to it. Reacting is dealing with the situation without emotions. Responding is dealing with a situation with our spiritual and intellectual acuity. Almost always when one “respond” to a situation, the correct decisions are made. Viseversa, when we “react” to a situation, the gratification might be immediate, however, the long-term effects are harmful. In conclusion, Joseph’s actions show that he “responded” to his situation.

In our present day, people will go to great lengths to “shame” others. They will take the opportunity, if presented to them, to demonize someone else because of a difference in opinion or ideology. Social media has become the platform for this growing vice. No matter how right someone is on an issue, they have no right to demonize or promote bigotry against others. Being right does not provide a sanction for hate. Unfortunately, I have often seen Christians taking part in this type of behavior for the sake of being right. It is not our “job” or “duty” to shame anyone. Let God be the judge! As Christians, we are called to stand up for injustice and fight against evil. However, rather than doing that, Christians are taking part in “mud-slinging,” attempting to destroy each other’s character. We should learn from the life of Joseph. He had every right to turn Mary over to the Jewish authorities. However, he preferred to put her away secretly. In other words, even though he was “right” he did not want to destroy Mary’s life over this issue. He did not want to shame her in public.

Above all, we should remember to be merciful. The heart of the Gospel is mercy. It was because of the mercy of God that we are able to receive salvation in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us in turn show mercy to others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you feel that you are patient? Or is this something you must work on? As you get older, do you find yourself becoming more or less patient?
  2. Per the sermon what is the difference between responding and reacting? Define some circumstances where you should have responded, but reacted?
  3. Do you feel that your presence on the Internet, especially Facebook or Twitter, makes you a better person?
  4. Do you agree or disagree that our social media has become a platform for shaming others? Discuss.
  5. Do you feel that social media has given a forum to certain people to attack and malign others who disagree with opinion or ideology? Discuss.